Nasu no Inaka-ni
Country-Style Simmered Eggplant
6 japanese eggplant
Trim off the edges of the eggplant caps (mind the spikes), but leave the caps on. Cut each eggplant in half lengthways, place each half on the chopping board skin-side-up, then cut diagonal slits downward through 2/3 of the thickness, about 1/4-inch apart. Cut each half in half again, diagonally in the opposite direction to the slits.
2 small chilis
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
Trim each chili, cut in half and remove the seeds.
Heat the oil in a wide pan, add the eggplant and cook over a strong flame until the eggplant pieces are soft (test with a wooden skewer), stirring constantly to spread the oil. Add the water and chilis, bring to the boil, add the sugar, then simmer vigorously under a drop lid for 7 or 8 minutes. Add the soy sauce and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 1/3. During this time, tilt the pan a couple of times to coat the eggplant with the simmering liquid.
Serve about 5-6 pieces piled elegantly in a bowl, with the liquid poured over.
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